Planning family finance with joint, separate accounts
When couples get married, they are faced with the decision on how to manage their finances, either through joint or separate accounts.
This can involve sharing responsibility for paying bills and setting shared savings goals. They may also choose to combine their regular income sources, such as cash gifts, a part of their salary, and wedding gifts, among others, into a single joint bank account as a sign of their financial commitment to each other.
However, this approach may not suit every couple as individual circumstances and preferences vary.
Managing finances as a couple can be tricky to sort out with two sources of income and two people with different backgrounds and financial perspectives. While trying to manage money jointly, there can be major differences in income, especially when one partner is the breadwinner, or the other half is responsible for managing groceries or paying for the children’s education.
Hence, whether you are just going into marriage or you have been married, managing your finances properly in a way that will not lead to conflict in your home is very essential.
According to Money Africa, here are different accounts for managing your finances, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Separate bank accounts can either be a savings or current. This type of account will work for couples who simply like to maintain their independence. If you and your spouse can agree on a fair way to split bills, maintaining separate accounts can be a good option.
It encourages freedom: Separate accounts allow each partner to retain their financial independence and spend or save however they want.
It is easy to part ways: Separate accounts prevent a situation in which a marriage goes bad and one spouse cleans out a savings account, leaving their partner with nothing.
Lack of trust: Couples who keep their accounts separate may be more likely to hide financial secrets from their partners, and this can breed lack of trust in the home.
Difficulty in achieving goals: Most of the time, the interest of the individual is above that of the home, and this makes it difficult to reach major milestones such as building houses, and paying for children’s education, among others.
A joint bank account has more than one owner and operates like individual savings or current account. The account owners may be business partners, spouses, or even parents opening up a bank account for their children’s education.
It encourages information sharing: Couples are able to know each other’s earnings as they grow in their marriage over the years. Each person understands what they have jointly earned in any particular period. In the event that calamity befalls either person, the surviving partner has a full understanding of what is left in the account.
It encourages effective planning: When a couple has a joint bank account, they see what is coming into the account everyday and can plan adequately without prejudice from each other.
Helps with saving and investment: Once the money is in the bank, the couple just needs to agree on investment decisions. It could be towards buying a property, owning a company, buying shares among others.
Loss of financial independence: The couple needs to report every money spent and take permission before they can make any money decisions. Some people, especially men, don’t feel comfortable with this kind of arrangement.
It’s problematic if the relationship ends: If the couple decides to part ways, the funds in a joint account can be difficult to separate. Each spouse has the right to withdraw money and close the account without the consent of the other, and one party can easily leave the other penniless.
While there are benefits to both joint and separate accounts, the best way to manage money in marriage could be a combination of both. A combined account will allow couples to fund one joint account for household bills and then divide up personal spending cash in separate accounts.
Another option is to have couples deposit their salary into separate accounts and then transfer an agreed upon amount to a joint account to pay bills. Either way, it’s wise to create a mechanism such as a power of attorney (a legal document or transfer) on death provision, that allows each spouse to have access to cash in separate accounts should one person become incapacitated or passes away.
At the end of the day, couples need to make a decision that works best for their marriage. Part of this conversation starts with setting financial priorities together, understanding each other’s values and aspirations, and where there are commonalities and differences.
Effective management of personal finances in a romantic relationship requires trust and communication, regardless of whether partners have separate or joint accounts. It is recommended that couples have at least one annual discussion about their financial situation, which can strengthen their relationship through open and honest communication. To make this discussion more romantic, couples can turn it into an event by going out for dinner or a show. Seeking advice from a financial advisor can also help couples manage their finances more effectively based on their unique relationship.
Make it work
In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, a newly married man and Chief Executive Officer of David Mollani Footwear, David Atolagbe, said to make finances work, openness is very important.
He said, “There is no hard and fast way to work out finances in a marriage. For me, it is about openness. Couples should not hide the details of every penny they make and they can in addition spend from each other. However, they must align their goals and also have their scale of wants and needs harmonised.
“This can be achieved without having a joint account, so at least everyone has control over their monies and can help to be accountable to each other. It also makes it easy for them to come through for each other. However, being honest is very important here.”
According to him, for finance to grow in marriage, both parties must be able to discipline their spending habits and cut down accidental spending.
He added, “Plan before money comes in to avoid spending wrongly, working with a scale of preference at every point in time is very essential.
Walekun salam, who is doing a PhD in Advance Drug Delivery in University of Alabama, is currently in the courtship stage of her relationship. She recommends that couples should begin their financial journey together from their courtship season.
She said, “Many intending couples don’t even have the full idea of their partners’ finances. The only way to make finances work is to have full disclosure, and let your partner know your financial strengths and weaknesses. So, even when one partner wants to demand something, the other partner would check the urgency because you are aware of the situation.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Caladium Consulting, Mathias Gboyega, who has been married for over two decades, observed that the finance in marriage is a very sensitive issue and requires adequate planning.
He said, “Financial planning should be pre and during marriage because there must be an adequate and conscious planning when a man is to contact a woman in marriage because of what is required to be taken care of. Hence, the foundation which everything in a marriage should be built upon is good communication.
“A couple can decide to get a joint account where they remit money monthly. However, in my own house, that’s not what works, I take full responsibility for everything and she does whatever she wants with her money. Even though she will still tell me how she spent it and what she saved without me asking, it has worked so well for us because we know what is right to do and this can be attributed to the strong level of communication that the marriage was built upon.”
According to Gboyega, every major expense should receive its deposit monthly such that getting such money won’t be an issue. He emphasised on spreading funds to invest in properties and other investments that can generate revenue overtime.
He added, “Joint account is advisable, however it must come from the river of abundance of understanding from both parties, hence every expenditure that each person wants to take must be jointly agreed on and there must be a cash flow management in which they must agree on the sources of income and expenditure profile in advance.
“However, the merit of having a joint account would come as a result of different spending patterns, if there is no alignment then there may be trouble, and if the style of life is different, there may be issues.”